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Protective Placement – Right to Hearing Before Placement Continued

County of Dunn v. Goldie H., 2001 WI 102, affirming unpublished decision of court of appeals
For Goldie H.: John E. Joyce

Issue: Whether a ch. 55 subject has a right to a hearing before the circuit court orders continuation of protective placement; and whether the circuit court must make findings of fact to support such an order.


¶6. We hold that a person is entitled to a hearing on the record before his or her protective placement is continued, and that the circuit court must make factual findings to support the need for continuation, as required by Wis. Stat. § 55.06(1) (1999-2000). Here the circuit court did not strictly comply with these requirements. Nonetheless, we cannot help but conclude that in this case, the circuit court’s review of the reports submitted to it, supplemented by a motion hearing in which the relevant issues were discussed, was sufficient to ensure that Goldie H. was being properly cared for and that her protective placement was properly continued in a facility appropriate for her needs. Consequently, we affirm the decision of the court of appeals.…¶35. A summary hearing is not an extensive hearing. It is a brief hearing on the record. The person whose protective placement is in question need not be present. The hearing may be in court or may be held by other means, such as a telephone or video conference. A summary hearing is not an evidentiary hearing. It is an opportunity for the court to ascertain that the proper procedures have been followed to ensure a proper continuation of a protective placement, and to make factual findings required by Wis. Stat. § 55.06(1). Taking a few moments to protect the rights of our most vulnerable citizens is not an unacceptable cost to society. It is an expression of our humanity. It is a commitment that no person will be warehoused and forgotten by the legal system. We believe we can assure this objective by giving our holding prospective application because the statute already requires annual review. Our goal is to firm up the rights of protectively placed persons, not to disrupt judicial calendars.

¶43. We conclude that in this case the circuit court’s review of the annual reports submitted by Joyce and the Dunn County DHS, supplemented by the motion hearing, was sufficient to ensure that Goldie H.’s protective placement was properly continued.

¶44. The circuit court did not make specific findings of fact supporting the continuation order, either in the order continuing Goldie H.’s protective placement or at the motion hearing on February 24, 2000. However, it is clear that in ordering the continuation of Goldie H.’s protective placement, the circuit court relied on information more than sufficient to make the findings based on the factors enumerated in Wis. Stat. § 55.06(2), as required by Wis. Stat. § 55.06(1). We therefore find that the court implicitly made those findings of fact. See Schneller v. St. Mary’s Hosp. Med. Ctr., 162 Wis. 2d 296, 311-12, 470 N.W.2d 873 (1991).


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